Fish farm could make triathletes shark bait
Port Elizabeth – Plans to build a large fish farm along a popular coast stretch prompted concerns it could entice sharks, endangering tourists and Ironman triathletes.
Authorities in Port Elizabeth say the vast fishery, 2.5km off Hobie Beach, will create much needed jobs in the area.
However, having had sharks in the area over many years, a host of beachfront hoteliers, marine biologists and local councillors say the project would also certainly attract a large number of Great Whites and other sharks species.
Paul Woolfe, Director of Ironman South Africa told AFP that if the project goes ahead they will be forced to move the event to another city as it will simply be too dangerous to run in potentially shark infested water where their sharks will probably think all their Christmases have come at once with thousands of triathletes swimming off the beach.
“One of many risks is that our athletes might be eaten by sharks, because the fish farm will lure bigger sharks to the bay that are not normally there,” Woolfe said.
In addition, the beach is a favourite training area for the triathletes preparing for the event.
Ironman SA had already been contacted by the cities of Cape Town and Durban about hosting the race which will be a huge financial boost to the cities.
Port Elizabeth could stand to lose around R88.6m in revenue if the race moved.
Port Elizabeth is currently set to host the annual Ironman African championship – a 3.8km swim followed by a 180km bike ride and a 42.2km marathon run – until 2016.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has already granted authorisation for the fish farm to go ahead, however a petition has been launched to stop it.
Dean Biddulphs, a municipal councillor, said the farm was important for jobs but should be built on land and not utilise the ocean.
“If it’s land-based, it’s even more economical and cost effective,” he said, adding that there was land available nearby. Logically this makes sense but there is always a fight with common sense verses corruption.